Pitching, small ball, defense prove to be winning formula for Senior Sox

By Rob Patrick

Four pitchers limited the Russellville Senior American Legion team to three runs on nine hits over 14[more] innings as the Bryant Black Sox swept a doubleheader 3-2 and 4-1 on Monday night. It was the first home date of the season for the Senior Sox who improved to 10-1 going into their trip to Jonesboro for the Red Wolf Classic this weekend.

Offensively, Bryant scored four of its seven runs in the twinbill off of bunt plays.

In the first game, Ozzie Hurt started and gave up single runs in the first and second then only allowed two batters to reach base over the next 3 1/3 innings. Nate Rutherford picked up the save in relief, retiring five of the six batters he faced.

In the nightcap, Devin Dupree gave up a run on two hits in the first then pitched shut-out ball through four innings before Tryce Schalchlin came on to close it out with three innings of one-high, shutout work for a save.

“The pitching just keeps on,” stated Bryant manager Darren Hurt, whose team came into the game with a combined earned run average of 1.25. “We threw Ozzie in there tonight, just kind of a spot start. We didn’t want to ride the same guys just because we’ve got to start looking at some guys for Omaha.”

The Sox travel to Nebraska for a tournament June 20-24. 

“We thought we’d give (Ozzie) a look and he kept them off-balance,” said the manager of his son. “He did a good job.

“The pitching just keeps doing it,” he reiterated. “And we laid down some really good bunts.”

Bryant had to come from behind in the opener. Russellville grabbed a 2-0 lead. An error, a sacrifice and an RBI single by Cody Underhill produced the first-inning tally. A doubleplay got Hurt out of the inning.

In the second, he hit Andrew Elam with a 1-2 pitch then Jacob Barker beat out a bunt for a hit. But when Mitchell Mullen followed with another bunt, Hurt made a nice play off the mound and threw to third for a force. But Parker Thompson singled to load the bases with, with two down, lead-off man Jordan Haas beat out an infield hit to drive in Russellville’s second run.

After stranding runners at first and third in the first, the Sox got on the board in the third when Korey Thompson reached second on an errant throw on his grounder to short then took third on Trevor Ezell’s long fly to right, and scored on a wild pitch.

Tyler Nelson beat out a bunt hit and when the throw to first was wild, he sprinted all the way to third. Hayden Lessenberry walked but both were stranded as Russellville’s tough right-hander Austin Robinson escaped with the lead.

Hurt had given up a one-out single in the third but then got some help from left fielder Marcus Wilson, who ran down a long fly down the line in left. That started a stretch in which Hurt and his defense retired nine in a row before he issued his first walk with one down in the top of the sixth.

Robinson had pitched around singles by Hayden Daniel and Austin Caldwell in the fourth but, in the fifth, the Sox rallied to gain the lead. Hurt ignited the uprising with a double down the left-field line on a 3-2 pitch. He advanced on a wild pitch as Nelson was drawing a walk and, on the next pitch, Lessenberry got a bunt down to plate the tying run.

Wilson kept the inning going with a single to left then Daniel got a bunt down that brought in Nelson with the go-ahead tally.

Wilson hustled to third on Daniel’s bunt and, in turn, Daniel stole second but Robinson escaped further damage with a strikeout and a pop to second.

In the top of the sixth, Rutherford relieved following the one-out walk. A liner to second and a grounder to short for a force brought that inning to a close. And, in the seventh, a two-out error came to naught as the right-hander closed it out by inducing a grounder to Nelson at short for a force out.

Russellville broke the ice first in the second game as well. Mullen beat out a bunt hit with one down in the first. He reached second when, with the hit-and-run on, Underhill grounded out to short. Dupree worked the count to 3-2 to the next batter Cory Hittinger but a liner to left resulted in an RBI double.

Dupree would allow just one more hit during his stint on the mound. It was a lead-off single by Elam in the second. He then made a nice play on a bunt by Parker Thompson to get a force at second. Hayden Timmerman bounced to short for a force and, Dupree induced a grounder to short by Blayze Schrepfer to end the inning.

That was the start of a stretch in which the Bryant hurler retired nine of 10 with the lone baserunner coming on a hit batsman. It also helped that Daniel made an extraordinary diving catch after a long run into right center, flagging down a lone drive by Matt Sims to open the fourth.

Bryant, meanwhile, had taken the lead. The Sox tied it with two runs in the bottom of the third. A walk to Korey Thompson started the rally. And when Ezell’s grounder to short resulted in a wild throw to second, Thompson made it to third. Ozzie Hurt followed with a bunt as the squeeze worked to plate Thompson. The ball rolled up the third-base line where Russellville’s Parker Thompson fielded it. He moved to tag Hurt who was forced out of the running box trying to avoid the tag. He was called out but it didn’t register with the Russellville first baseman in time. He tried to toss to Mullen, over from second to cover first, but the throw was wild. Ezell, who was moving on the pitch, scored all the way from first to make it 2-2.

Daniel opened the bottom of the fourth with a single but he had to come out of the game. He’d aggravated a back ailment making the eye-popping catch in the top of the inning then tweaked it on his swing. With Wilson already out of the game due to a wrist injury, it left the Sox manager scrambling to fill outfield spots. Cody Gogus came in to run for Daniel but was forced at second on a grounder by Chase Tucker.

But Blake Patterson, who was on base all three times in the game, worked a walk and Zach Graddy, breaking out of a slump, looped a single to center to drive in the go-ahead run.

Graddy would finish with two hits to go with Patterson’s pair.

Schalchlin relieved in the fifth and retired the first seven batters he faced before giving up a single to Elam with one out in the seventh. He then retired the final two, ending the game.

The Sox had provided a little more breathing room with a run in the sixth. One-out singles by Patterson and Graddy had runners at the corners. Haas was called on to relieve Barker, the starter, at that point but before he could end the inning, he balked, allowing Patterson to score the final tally.

BRYANT 3-4, RUSSELLVILLE 2-1

Game one

Russellville ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi

Haas, rf-p 4 1 1 1 Ezell, 3b 4 0 1

Hawkins, dh 2 0 0 0 Hurt, p-2b 3 1 1 0

Timmerman, rf 1 0 0 0 Nelson, ss 2 1 1 0

Underhill, ss 3 0 1 1 Lessenberry, c 0 0 0 1

Hottinger, c 3 0 1 0 Wilson, lf 3 0 1 0

Elam, lf 1 0 0 0 Daniel, cf 3 0 2 1

Barker, 3b 3 1 1 0 Gogus, 1b 3 0 0 0

Mullen, 2b 3 0 0 0 Caldwell, rf 2 0 1 0

P.Thompson, 1b3 0 1 0 Rutherford, p 0 0 0 0

Schrepfer, cf 3 0 0 0 K.Thompson, 2b2 1 0 0

Robinson, p 0 0 0 0 Tucker, rf 1 0 0 0

Totals 26 2 5 2 Totals 23 3 7 2

Russellville 110 000 0 — 2

BRYANT 001 020 x — 3

E—Wilson, Underhill, Barker, Nelson, P.Thompson. DP—Bryant 1. LOB—Russellville 6, Bryant 8. 2B—Hurt. SB—Daniel. S—Hawkins, Hurt, Lessenberry.

Pitching ip r er h bb so

Russellville

Robinson (L)  5 4 2 7 4 4

Haas 1 0 0 0 0 0

Bryant

Hurt (W) 5.1 2 1 5 1 2

Rutherford (S) 1.2 0 0 0 0 1

Balk—Robinson. HBP—Elam (by Hurt). WP—Robinson 2.


Game two

Russellville ab r h bi Black Sox ab r h bi

Haas, rf-p 3 0 0 0 Ezell, 3b 3 1 0 0

Mullen, 2b 2 1 1 0 Hurt, ss 1 0 0 1

Underhill, ss 3 0 0 0 Nelson, dh 3 0 0 0

Hottinger, dh 3 0 1 1 Wilson, lf 1 0 0 0

Hawkins, lf 0 0 0 0 Caldwell, lf-cf 2 0 0 0

Sims, 3b 3 0 0 0 Daniel, cf 2 0 1 0

Elam, c 3 0 2 0 Gogus, pr-1b 1 0 0 0

P.Thompson, 1b 3 0 0 0 Tucker, rf 3 1 1 0

Timmerman, lf-rf 3 0 0 0 Patterson, 1b-lf 2 1 2 0

Schrepfer, cf 2 0 0 0 Graddy, c 3 0 2 1

Barker, p 0 0 0 0 K.Thompson, 2b2 1 1 0

Dupree, p 0 0 0 0

Schalchlin, p 0 0 0 0

Totals 25 1 4 1 Totals 23 4 7 2

Russellville 100 000 0 — 1

BRYANT 002 101 x — 4

E—Underhill, P.Thompson. DP—Russellville 1. LOB—Russellville 4, Bryant 5. 2B—Hottinger. SB—Timmerman. S—Hurt. 

Pitching ip r er h bb so

Russellville 

Barker (L) 5.1 4 2 7 3 3

Haas 0.2 0 0 0 0 0

Bryant

Dupree (W) 4 1 1 3 0 1

Schalchlin (S) 3 0 0 1 0 2

Balk—Haas. HBP—Mullen (by Dupree). WP—Barker 2. PB—Graddy.

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